Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Weirdness of Steve Coll

I'm not saying Steve Coll is on the CIA payroll, only that it's a good hypothesis.

So I read "Ghost Wars" and was duly impressed, but it left me somehow unsettled, as if the really hard questions were never asked. And then, afterwards, I had these questions about how Steve Coll got to be where he is, and in fact, how he got access to all the "sources" who gave him detailed information about the events in Afghanistan leading up to 9/11, and why some other schmuck working for, say The Guardian, or Rolling Stone for that matter, didn't have the same access.

Chalmers Johnson reviewed Ghost Wars and made the same observations about access, and then went off onto a discussion of history, without once wondering publicly about Coll's access.

From that paranoid perspective, Coll's book looks suspiciously like a plant, a CIA version of "The Sky Was Falling But Nobody Listened, But If They Had Listened We Could Have Taken Out Bin Laden" - no 9/11, everybody lives happily ever after, and he a mouthpiece for the American national security state like David Brooks, Tom Friedman, Judy Miller, David Broder, all these hacks. Of course, his revised edition made use of the 9/11 Commission, but to suggest that he is an historian is starting to look very dubious.

Now, he appears in the New Yorker, casting doubt on the ethics of Wikeleaks without once - not once - questioning the ethics, morality, or legality of American wars in Afghanisan and Iraq, and - not once - showing that any harm has come to anybody as a result of WikiLeaks' leaks, except possibly to some Iraqi thugs and American putative war criminals.

There's more than one way to be on the payroll. One is money, another is goods in kind.